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GAME #53
Saturday, September 4, 2021

#19 Penn State Nittany Lions: 0-0
@ #12 Wisconsin Badgers: 0-0

 

Camp Randall Stadium
Madison, Wisconsin


10
Trip Dates 9/3/2021 – 9/5/2021
School University of Wisconsin
Visiting Team #19 Penn State Nittany Lions
Pre-game Record: 0-0
Home Team #12 Wisconsin Badgers
Pre-game Record: 0-0
Game Time (ET) 12:00 PM Eastern (11:00 Local Time)
Weather 66 & Cloudy
Attendees Jarrett, Al, & Debra 
Jarrett’s Pick Wisconsin Badgers
(34 and 18 record)
Al’s Pick Wisconsin Badgers
(28 and 24 record)
Attendance 76,832
Capacity 80,321
TV Fox
Length of Game 3:42
Seat Location End Zone, Row 41
Miles Traveled 1,849
Photo Album Click here for the Wisconsin Photo Album

 

As a preface to this Wisconsin trip report, I just need to say that it was very nice to get out on the road again and see a college football game in person after having to take a pause for the 2020 season due to Covid-19.  But just that one year pause, left us rusty and out of practice.  My note taking dropped off as did our picture taking, especially pictures with people (us) in them.  So this trip report is not as comprehensive as I would have liked and does not contain as much detail as I would have preferred.  Some of that is to protect the highly guilty (Al), some of that is to protect the perceived innocence of the young (Randi) and younger than us (Debra), and some of it is poor note taking and the bad memory of the increasing age of the Questers.  But here you have our Wisconsin trip report. 

Travel

One thing that has not changed, is the early wake up calls on our Friday travel days and this trip was no exception.  It was a 3am wakeup to make the 6am Southwest flight to Midway airport in Chicago.  Yes, I could cut it closer like Al does, but have I mentioned how much I do not like airport stress before. I will say that the traffic in New York is not bad at 3:30am.  The roads were not empty but there was no traffic.

After having no issues at security, despite the Precheck line not yet being open, I proceeded into the post security section of the brand new Terminal B at LaGuardia airport .  Wow, it is actually nice.  Did they actually design and build a nice terminal at LGA?  By gosh, they did.  When you get past security, you enter an area with shops that are nice.  And get this, there are food options that are actually open.  Yes, they are open.  I know you would not think that it would be rare to be in an airport that has flights with the food stands closed, but that was the old way.  

Having flew to the airport with no traffic and breezed through security, I had time to actually eat some breakfast.  Given that the flight to Chicago was short I decided sleep was not going to be worth it, so I opted to eat.  It was an egg sandwich from Zaro’s that was the choice.  C’mon Zaro’s, for the price of that sandwich, couldn’t the eggs be fresh and not processed.  I can get processed eggs at Dunkin’ or heaven forbid Starbucks.  Not good, Zaro’s.  

After ingesting the poor excuse that Zaro’s calls an egg sandwich, I headed for the gate.  Holy crap, I am really going to have to stop making fun of this airport, or at least this terminal.  They did a good job.  It is nice.  It is now up to the standard that all other cities had 10 years ago.

Al and Debra finally made their way to the gate as I was lining up according to the Southwest boarding procedure.  They cut it pretty close, but made it.  That stress is not for me.

The flight was uneventful but two things bear mentioning.  First, the Southwest flight attendant was definitely on something during the pre flight announcements.  I do not know what it was but we could all benefit from whatever she was taking. Noone should be that chipper at 6am.  Second, the bickering old couple in the row behind us was quite entertaining.  I wish that I was able to record their antics.  All I know is that if he made it that long with her, I want what he is on too.  Have to be newlyweds on a second, third, or fourth marriage. No way anyone lasts that long with her.

Anyway, we arrived at Midway and picked up our rental car.  Despite all the hype over the rental car shortages, we have no issues other than a large crack in the front fender. We then head out on the 2.5 hour drive to Madison, which took us right through Chicago on “South Central Avenue”, which could have been “a lot worse.” Deb thinks these houses are “cute”, but guess what, you wouldn’t catch her dead in them.

 The drive is long and boring.  Debra did not entertain us.  She slept as Al tried to talk to her.  Shades of bickering old couple?  I mean I understand, but very disappointing! Btw, can you guess who said “I’m putting my mask up in the car so I can open my mouth when I sleep”?  So she slept, while we drove on I-90, which is the Panda Express corridor.

Madison

We arrive in Madison and do what we do best, drive around aimlessly.  We find Camp Randall Stadium and get out to walk around aimlessly.  Our tour guide, Randi, Al’s niece who is a senior at Wisconsin, is not available for tours until dinner.  Plus in retrospect, I think we saw more of Madison in one weekend than she has seen in 3+ years.  So we walk around the stadium trying to find its vulnerabilities, mainly a way to get in.  We do not succeed.  But we do find a canon for Al to climb onto.  We will define old age as the trip upon which Al is no longer able to climb up onto the canon.  We are getting close.

We also stumbled upon the Wisconsin Hall of Fame.  This then turned into a game of how many of them do you recognize and there were actually quite a few. 

We then find the stadium shop where I am able to do my usual purchases of a shot glass and t-shirt.  As we are in the white section for the game (it is a stripe out with some sections red and some white), it is a gray shirt for me.  From the stadium shop, we are able to see them setting up the Big Noon kickoff set inside the stadium.  Boy I would have thought the set would be bigger.  Maybe one day the big set will be in the budget.  Maybe it is a Fox inferiority complex and no that is not a political statement, that is a Big Ten inferiority complex statement.

Back to the car we pass the club entrance (see picture).  Looks more like a prison than a club but maybe that is just me. 

And now it is time for Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

  • We do a lot of walking on these trips.  In 2019 and prior, when we did a lot of these trips, I (Jarrett) weighed a lot and was significantly overweight.  In 2020-2021, when we did no trips and thus less walking, I lost weight.  Hence, walking makes you fat.  Thus, I will stop walking.  I need a scooter on these trips.  Correlation = Causation
  • This stadium has a lot of choke points.  There are many places where people get funneled into narrow spaces.  That can not be good.  Poor design.
  • I’m always surprised that I am not fatter than I am.

Campus

It was off to the campus bookstore, which was very crowded.  Al did his usual damage plus a bit more for his kids, after all cousin Randi goes here, so everybody needs something good.

We then walked over to the Memorial Union for lunch.  After some indecision, which I attribute to Debra being indecisive (yes Debra, that is the view from under the bus), we go to the Der Rathskeller, which Randi via text informs us is good.  Given that it is raining out, we forgo eating out on the terrace overlooking the lake, and eat inside.  Randi is 1 for 1.  It was pretty good, especially for an on campus option.  After lunch we head a few stalls over to the Daily Scoop for ice cream.  We have to see who has the better dairy, Wisconsin or Penn State.  This is a very important Quest question that was first raised on the Penn State trip as apparently there is a dairy rivalry.  Actually, I do not care, I just wanted ice cream.  The ice cream was very good.  If you have the means, I highly recommend picking some up. 

Given the rain, Debra and Al made an executive decision while I was off in the bathroom or somewhere.  We would go to the Capitol today and walk around campus on Sunday, when the weather was expected to be better.

So back to the car and the short drive to the Capitol.

Capitol

After a very short drive to the Capitol, we park and head out for the Capitol building.  The downtown square around the Capitol is very nice, with lots of restaurants, etc. all around. The next tour is still a bit away, so we go on our own up to the observation deck.  We get a really good view of Madison, the lakes that surround Madison, and can even see all the way to Canada.  As an aside, since we are up North, and near a lake, anything on the other side of the lake must be Canada, even though we are nowhere near Canada, these lakes are tiny compared to the size of the Great Lakes and if we were on the Great Lakes you would not be able to see the other side.  But despite all that, the other side of any lake in Wisconsin is Canada!  Let me be clear for Beth, the other side of the lake is not Canada.  We were nowhere near Canada.  Canada would be at least 7 hours away and you have to go through Michigan or Minnesota.  The other side of the lake is still Madison.  It is a small lake.  

After the observation deck, which we were allowed to go out onto and Al did not have to sneak out, we went to the inside rotunda observation deck.  I did not go near the edge of that.  It was a long way down to a hard marble floor.

 Then we went on the Capitol tour.  This was the educational part of the trip.  We learned a lot of Wisconsin state history.  Including the fact that they have a very heavy bronze badger sculpture on loan from the Navy that the Navy wants back, and the state is not giving it back.  What is the navy going to do, invade Wisconsin?  Wisconsin has an assembly, a senate, a supreme court, and a governor.  Nothing was in session at the current time.  In fact we could not get an answer as to how much time they are in session.  We got, “it depends.”  I was just curious if this was one of those states where they work 4 weeks every 2 years or they actually work. It does appear as if Wisconsin does have one of those legislatures that actually works, and by that I mean is in session, I do not mean works in terms of functions as government very rarely functions.  That is a political statement.  Good for them.

After the Capitol, we headed off to the hotel for some rest and for some (not me) a nap, before dinner.

 Dinner

Randi was responsible for dinner plans both Friday and Saturday.  I do not think she realized the full scope of the responsibility and burden she was taking on, but in any event, Friday’s option was Tavernakaya located across from the Capitol.  I would describe this as Asian food with dumplings, sushi, and of course, Wisconsin cheese curds prepared in an Asian manner.  

 First, let me say that Randi advised against ordering sushi as she is not a fan of ordering sushi in the middle of the country because where would it come from.  As opposed to the great sushi in New York that comes from the pure clean waters of the East River.  But let’s put that aside.  Just remember this comment for later, specifically tomorrow at lunch.  Welcome to the Quest Randi, where all comments go noticed.

 Anyway, Randi made an excellent dinner choice.  The food was quite good.  She is now 2 for 2.  And we are a tough crowd.  Also keep this in mind for something shocking that I learned about one of her favorite restaurants on the drive back to Midway airport on Sunday.

 Dinner conversation consists of:

  • Many stories that Randi has not heard before that I am sure Nancy will be asked about
  • Stories that Randi has heard but from other sides of the family and now has a new perspective
  • Stories that can’t be printed here to protect many parties, but especially Al’s mom
  • And lastly, one story that neither Jarrett nor Randi had heard before about Al but was perfectly in character and which neither was surprised by but Debra was (who had recently found out about and was the one telling the story).  I guess Debra just had a higher opinion of Al.  Poor Debra. Clearly she got suckered in.

 After dinner, it was back to the hotel for a bit of sleep.  Saturday would be an early wake up as the game was an 11am kick and Randi had plans for us beginning at 8am.

Saturday Pregame Festivities

Saturday began with early “pregaming” at Randi’s apartment beginning at 8am.  Keep in mind, kickoff is at 11am.  But it’s ok, it was mimosas.  Longstanding brunch tradition holds that mimosas are ok for pre noon drinking.  Just hold the champagne and add vodka to mine…and while you are at it, hold the oj too.  

Randi has a very nice apartment in a great location and apparently it is “the” complex to live in.  From the location alone I can understand why.  After a bit of time in Randi’s apartment with many people and a very cute dog which one of her roommates was dog sitting for, it was time to head out to the “place to be”, The Kollege Klub.  I have a lot of thoughts on that name, but I can not put any of them in public.

Now a word about how to get into The Kollege Klub when you are under 21.  Apparently, you can get in if you are with your guardian.  So Al, Debra, and I, became guardians to 3 people who were underage and then it is perfectly fine that you are all allowed in.  They then hold your licenses together to ensure that you all leave together in an attempt to prevent you from getting people in and then having the adult leave while the minor stays.  Do not spend time trying to find the logic in the process.  I already tried and could not do it.  In any event, the herd of us all went to The Kollege Klub to continue the pregame party.  There are a few pictures fit to print of this.  We all did in fact, leave together.

Pregame

At some point as kickoff was approaching, Al and I decided to head off to the game.  Debra was not convinced the game was a good idea and was instead persuaded to continue drinking with Randi at a frat party.  Odds were released at 50/50 if we would see them for the rest of the day. It was 10:1 that we would find them face down in a ditch passed out by 4pm.

Al and I attempted to take an Uber to the game, but it didn’t work out well.  We got a bit closer but had to walk a bit.  We passed under an arch which was one of the choke points we had identified yesterday.  We then almost got run over by the band.  But we did make it to our seats with plenty of time before kickoff.

The stripe-out was taking shape well.  You could clearly identify which section was supposed to be red and which white, which is not always the case during a stripe out.  The student section was even beginning to fill up before kick off.

Despite the stripe-out, Al picks Wisconsin.  I agonized over this pick and felt the game would be a coin toss, but ultimately went with the home team and Wisconsin.  Oops.  That is called foreshadowing.

The Game

Wisconsin (UW) won the coin toss and deferred to the 2H.  The 1Q was a back and forth offensive struggle with neither team being able to move the ball.  Towards the end of the 1Q into the 2Q, UW was able to string together a 15 play drive, but it would end with a blocked field goal.  PSU would go 3 and out. UW then strung together a 12 play drive, but it would end with a Graham Mertz fumble.  The teams then traded short drives before the 1H ended 0-0.  It would be unfair to characterize this as a defensive battle.  There was some defense being played, but there were also considerable struggles by both offenses that contributed to a scoreless 1H.

 UW received the 2H kickoff and went 3 and out.  PSU drove 86 yards for the opening score capped by a 49 yard TD pass giving PSU a 7-0 lead.  UW answered strongly with a solid 10 play, 75 yard 4 minute drive to tie the game at 7.  The teams would enter the 4Q tied at 7.   The teams then traded field goals and it was 10-10.  UW went 3 and out.  PSU drove down for the leading TD but missed the PAT for a 16-10 lead.  UW had its chances down the stretch for a winning TD and PAT, but could not convert its chances as PSU was able to barely hold onto a 16-10 win.

 This was a game that was dominated by Wisconsin in the final stats.  Wisconsin held a 42:24 to 17:35 time of possession lead, 95 to 51 advantage in total plays run, 29 to 11 first downs advantage, a dominating rushing performance of 180 to 50 yards, and was +68 in total yards gained.  But Wisconsin was 1 of 4 in the red zone and was -3 in turnovers, and that was the story of this game. Wisconsin outplayed Penn State, but could not convert its opportunities into scores. 

Notes from the Camp Randall Stadium:

  • Randi and Debra did arrive and it was before halftime, so kudos to them.
  • This stadium could have the worst cell phone reception of all time
  • The end of 3Q Jump Around was short but awesome.  I do not understand why more schools do not have an end of 3Q tradition, but it is surprisingly rare.  I also think this is true  about a pre kickoff entrance video.  But the jump around is very good.  See video at the bottom of this trip report.  
  • The post game band dance party is very cool as well.
  • Both of these teams STINK (this was an Al comment as I would be more kind, but his sentiment is not wrong)

Post Game

After the game some food was needed.  Randi took us to FreshFin Poke.  It was good and needed.  But here is what needs to be commented upon.  Remember what I said last night about Randi saying not to get sushi in Madison?  Well, here is where it is relevant.  I asked her what is good at FreshFin.  She recommended the spicy tuna bowl.  Huh?   You do realize what raw tuna is right?  Isn’t that just sushi in a different form or even the same form?  At least she realized the ridiculousness and contradictions of the two statements.  And by the way, the spicy tuna bowl was good.

 After that, we went back to the hotel for some rest.  I went and tried to watch the Florida Gators game.  But apparently the SEC Network is not common in Madison.  The bartender at the bar I went to told me to try Buffalo Wild Wings.  That was not happening on any planet, so I watched it on my iPad.

Dinner

Dinner was at Cento Ristorante.  It was another good choice by Randi.  She was 3 for 3 which for anyone that knows me, is a very tall order.  The Tagliatelle with bolognese pasta I had was fantastic.

After dinner we walked back along State Street and stopped at Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream which was a must stop ice cream place according to the ice cream network that Al and Debra are plugged into. I did not ask and I suggest that you don’t either.  And love the nutritional information sign in the shop (see picture).  One of the best.

State Street is a very nice street connecting the Capitol district to the University area.  It is lined with shops, restaurants, bars, etc.  Too bad you can only walk it a few months out of the year before it is freezing out.  Or as Randi says, “I have a very large coat”.  If the University of Wisconsin was someplace warm, it would be really really nice.  Instead it is just really nice.  If you are not one that cares about being somewhere really cold, this place is a must see and you should consider going to school here if you can get in.

After the ice cream, Al and Debra claimed they were too old and tired to go out drinking, so we went back to the hotel to sleep.

Sunday Campus Visit

Sunday morning came and it was off to campus to see the actual University of Wisconsin campus.  The only problem was that we couldn’t actually find it.  It was hard to find where campus began and the city ended and vice versa.

The first mission was to find a U of Wisconsin sign.  After driving around for what seemed like a long time, we found it right where we were on Friday, by Camp Randall Stadium.  We had probably walked past it twice.  Oh well.

Next, we drove through the heart of campus, stopping a few times at Kodak picture spots, where we saw cranes (the animal not the construction kind), nice buildings, and across the lake to Canada.  A nice police person even moved their vehicle so we could get a nice shot of the agriculture building that we thought was the President’s house.  I am sure they were wondering why we were taking a picture of a random building, but hey, that’s what we do.

Then we made a 25 minute pit stop at the Memorial Union (I know because that’s how long the parking spot that we got right out front allowed for).  It was a beautiful day and the view from the back across the lake (to Canada) was gorgeous.  There were people swimming, boating, eating, and drinking.  I guess there are only 3 months where it is nice enough to do this, so take advantage.

This was not the normal walking tour of campus that we typically like to do.  I would have liked to do that but sometimes we have to make adjustments and this trip just did not allow for it.  I think we got a good feel for the campus, but it still would have been nice to walk around a bit.

Culvers

After the brief pitstop, we head off to Midway airport.  But we had a stop to make along the way.  Randi told us that anytime she and Nancy (Randi’s mom) go to Chicago, they stop at Culvers (a fast food chain with approx 800 locations), home of Butterburgers and fresh frozen custard.  So of course, we had to try them.  And little did we know that the world’s largest Culver’s was in Edgerton, WI.  So that is where we had to stop.

The world’s largest Culvers is a large normal sized fast food place.  Here is my review:

  • Onion Rings – average
  • Frozen Custard – I prefer ice cream
  • Butterburger – excellent – this burger had great flavor and is an excellent fast food burger.  This is up there with In & Out in terms of the burger.

Of Note

So on the rest of the long boring drive to Midway, I was remarking about Randi’s excellent taste in food.  I can be a tough food critic. And Randi had a remarkable batting average in food choices during the trip including the fact that Culvers had a good burger.  This is when Al dropped this nugget, that one of Randi’s favorite restaurants in NY is Olive Garden.  And then all respect went out the window.  I like Olive Garden’s salad and breadsticks, but at the risk of ruining future sponsorship opportunities with them, their food is inedible.  Now Al’s family is Italian.  I have eaten Al’s mom’s cooking.  To borrow a phrase from John McEnroe, “she can’t be serious??”  I just can’t reconcile this in my head.  So I am going to pretend that I did not hear this and move on.

Travel

Travel home on Southwest was uneventful, which is always ideal.  Pickup at the new Terminal B at LGA is nice as they make it easy to come out on the departure level which is great.

Postscript

Penn State would win its first 5 games of the year before going on a 3 game losing streak.  The Nittany Lions would finish the year at 7-5, 4-5 in the BigTen East which would be good enough for 4th place.  They earned an Outback Bowl berth where they lost 24-10 to Arkansas.

Wisconsin finished 8-4, 6-3 in the BigTen West which was good for 3rd place.  The Badgers earned a Las Vegas Bowl berth where they beat the Arizona State Sun Devils 20-13.


Photo Gallery
For our Wisconsin photo album, Please click here. You can view as a collage or run as a slideshow. There are comments to explain what is in the photo but most are self explanatory. Thanks to Google, I can no longer embed the slide show with comments.





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